Search Close Search
Page Menu

Current Lab Members

Stuart M. Levitz, MD

 Levitz 2019.jpg

Stuart Levitz received his M.D. degree from New York University Medical School. Since 2006, Dr. Levitz has been a Professor at the UMass Chan Medical School. His over 150 research publications are mostly focused on the mechanisms by which the immune system controls fungal pathogens and the strategies that fungi utilize to circumvent host defenses. Recent areas of interest include Cryptococcus vaccine development and deciphering the role of eosinophils in invasive and allergic aspergillosis. Dr. Levitz is an attending physician at UMassMemorial Hospital where he specializes in Transplant Infectious Diseases.

Charles A. Specht, PhD

 Specht 2019.jpg

Charlie Specht received his Ph.D. from the University of Vermont, where he studied the mitochondrial and ribosomal DNA of the fungus Schizophyllum commune, while also developing techniques to isolate and characterize its mating-type genes. He then completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology focusing on fungal chitin synthases, chitinases and chitin deacetylases. Dr. Specht has worked closely with Dr. Levitz since 2001. Research areas include understanding the synthesis of chitin and chitosan and their role in organizing the cell wall of the pathogenic fungus, Cryptococcus neoformans, and the pre-clinical development of cryptococcal vaccines.

Lorena Oliveira Ramalho, PhD

 Lorena Oliveira Ramalho.png

Lorena Oliveira Ramalho received her PhD in 2017 from the Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil and joined the Levitz lab as a postdoctoral fellow in 2018. Lorena’s work is focused on the immune response to Cryptococcus and the development of vaccines to protect against cryptococcal infections.

Ruiying Wang


Ruiying Wang received her MD in 2016 from the Fudan University, China and joined the Levitz lab in 2020 as a postdoctoral associate. Ruiying’s research mainly focus on the immune response and development of protective vaccines against cryptococcal infections.

Maureen Hester, PhD

 Maureen Hester.png

Maureen Hester joined the lab as an undergraduate intern from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in 2015 and continued to work as a technician while completing her MS at UConn.  She did her PhD studies in the Levitz Lab. She successfully defended her PhD in December 2022 and is now a postdoctoral fellow studying the mechanisms of protection induced by experimental vaccination against Cryptococcus.

Diana Lourenco


Diana Lourenco graduated from the University of Rhode Island in 2017 with a Bachelor's Degree In Marine Biology. She joined the lab in 2020. Diana maintains the mouse colony and assists with vaccination studies.

Zachary Hastings

 Zachary Hastings

Zachary Hastings graduated from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in 2023 with Bachelor’s Degrees in Kinesiology and Spanish. He joined the Levitz lab as a research associate in 2023. Zach maintains the mouse colonies and helps run the vaccination studies.